Monday, February 25, 2013

The Good Word: God Goes Before Us

Reading God’s Story plan: current
Lent for Everyone plan: current

The past couple of weeks, the readings have been mostly in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. For the Lent plan, the readings come from Matthew and the Psalms.

The Lent reading plan has been interesting. It has given me new insights into reading Matthew and the Psalms, new understandings into the life of Jesus and how it relates to the present day, how it relates to my life. I have been enjoying it so far.

As I read Exodus 32 (NKJV), I had a thought and wrote a note on it. I titled it “A God to go before us”:

In the exodus from Egypt, God had guided them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They have gotten used to God going before them. [my notes]

Exodus 13: 21 and 22 tells of the pillars of cloud and fire:

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people. [NKJV]

In chapter 14, God opens the Red Sea so that the Israelites may cross on dry land. In chapter 16, we read about God providing manna for them to eat, each having enough to satisfy. In chapter 17, God brings forth water for them to drink, from a rock, and victory over the Amalekites.

Then Moses is called up to Mount Sinai for a conference with God. God gives the 10 commandments, the consecration ritual for Aaron and the priests, and the plans for the tabernacle. God is preparing Moses for the further leading of the Israelites but the Israelites down below get restless. God’s cloud hasn’t moved in days; they haven’t seen or heard from Moses in as many days.

So in chapter 32, we read about how the Israelites call for the making of the Golden Calf. Note what they say in the first verse:

Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” [NKJV, emphasis mine]

I imagine that they might have still been concerned about anyone else from Egypt coming after them again, or perhaps concerned about having to fight another group like the Amalekites, who knows? The Bible tells us that Moses was on the mountain 40 days and 40 nights, over a month. A lot can happen in a month. The Bible doesn’t say, but I deduce that the Israelites were still receiving manna to eat and water to drink; God was still providing their needs while he talked with Moses.

Yet the people were anxious for whatever reason. And so they called for the making of gods, maybe thinking that more gods are better than one. And they wanted these gods to go before them, as God had done for them previously.

I ought not to fault the Israelites; for how many times have I been anxious and wanting God to do for me what he had done a previous time? In these passages, the points that come to me are the following:

1) God will do what he does in his own timing. I need to be patiently waiting for the green light to go, and be prepared to go when the green light comes. While I patiently wait, I need to be waiting on him and not on anyone or anything else.

2) God will work in whatever way he deems good and right. Just because he did something before doesn’t mean that he’ll repeat the same method. For instance, just because he sent encouragement through someone sending much needed money before, he might send much needed money through a new job opportunity, or by any number of means. He could speak directly to me for instruction, and next time he might have someone send me a word through a handwritten note.

So 2b) is probably to not limit God and what he can do. As God said to Sarah, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” [Genesis 18:14, NKJV] God can not only provide “manna” and water, not only fight for us against “Amalekites,” not only go before us, but he can do so much more.

3) God goes before us. Whatever he has promised is ours with confidence, no matter if we can’t understand why or cannot see how. God goes before us to clear the path. We need to make sure that we are following him. We need to keep in relationship with him so that we are following him. He will go before us to clear the way of distractions, clear the way of barriers, clear the way of people who try to block us. We need to ask him to continue to clear the way and then trust him to do so.

4) Get rid of any golden calves. Is there a golden calf in my heart where only the Holy Spirit ought to be? Is there a golden calf in my life that I substitute for God? I need to rid my heart and my life of any golden calves.

Thank you for reading,

Disclaimer: I am a Christian layperson. I may or may not be extrapolating from the Bible accurately, though my aim is to be accurate or at least to not misconstrue God’s word, yet this is a reflection of where my faith journey is at the moment. I hope that further journeying will bring greater insight.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Healthy Go: Updates, Workout Schedule, Next Steps and More

Hello friends,

 I’ve missed posting for a few weeks now, including the HG posts.

One thing is that I have an idea on how to improve my posts, only I need time to really work on it and I don’t have that kind of time at the moment to really engage in the possibilities and develop them. Another thing is that the online course I’m taking started at the end of January; this is the first (and hopefully last) online course I’m taking and I don’t know how to get my work done if others aren’t doing their work as well, so I’m going to email the instructor this weekend and figure it out.

And then there’s just the stuff of life and personal projects.

I’ve been keeping up pretty okay with the “My Year of Health” project. Still, this is my main journal and these HG posts are my main health writings.

My food and drink intake have been pretty steady. I’m slowly building into moving more. Sometimes I wonder if my body’s just giving out on me; I’m not as young as some might think to look at me or guessing by my taking college courses. I’m certain that some of the hesitation is that I’m psyching myself out, so I’m working on that.

For February, I had stated that I would set an exercise schedule and do it, then make adjustments as needed. The schedule is to move purposefully every day with Sunday as my rest day.

More specifically, Monday, Friday, and Saturday are to be gym days; Tuesdays and Thursdays are workout at home days; and Wednesday is an alternate day which I do something, whether at gym or at home, my choice. I like having a little flexibility in anything, or a good balance between rigidity and a flow.

So far, I haven’t been sticking to it too well. I am still thinking of all this as a constant design-build (kind of references something in architecture, my main field of study). For HG, this means that I plan something out, try it out, build it up, and make adjustments as necessary. This is generally how I work on projects, so I don’t know if it would work for everyone. I would recommend it for its ability in forming structure while also personalizing it to what works for each person. I can talk about that more another time.

Back to the moving more, haven’t stuck to it well but I am starting to move more. I’m more aware of having to move more, as opposed to just going through my days and then realizing just before I sleep that I haven’t exercised that day. I’ll still be building it up through March.

When I start getting comfortable in it, I’m thinking the next step up will be to work on adding more structure to the workout schedule. This would be to take the workout days and designate cardio, weights, and sections of the body (upper body, lower body, core).

So this is where I am.

The last few days have been rainy and very windy. Today it really got me down and feeling like I might actually be getting sick though I hope not. A lot more people were coughing on the bus today it seemed. I was just feeling like a soaked rat and contemplated chosen baldness today; I was tired of having my hair all crazy blowing in my face and such. My hair’s still not long enough for a proper ponytail.

And my skin’s been very dry for the last few months so all the wind has not been helping it.

Whenever I have worked out, I have felt some good pain in my muscles. I’m not hurting as much as I would like to be, I mean that I can take more and work more. For the time being, I’m getting into it. Pain (other than or opposed to serious injury like taking caution for my weak leg) is not a deterring factor for me; it is welcomed and I’m starting to look forward to it again, having it motivate me.

I’ve had another moment of waking up and getting dressed and as I look in to the mirror, thinking that I’m starting to see and feel positive changes in my body. Next Friday is the day for another measuring day so we’ll see if there are any changes. I’m excited for it.

That’s all the update I can think of for the moment.

I hope you are all healthy and well and moving along on your own Healthy Go journey!

Thank you for reading,

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Good Word: God is Sovereign

Reading God’s Story plan: current

I missed posting last Monday but I am still up-to-date with my reading plan.

The past week, the readings were in Job 25-42, Psalm 19 and 29, and Exodus 1-4.

Job is an interesting book. It is one of the few that gives us a perspective on Satan. In fact, it gives a couple of conversations between God and Satan. God boasts in his servant Job, so Satan attacks Job’s character by taking Job’s possessions and children. Job’s response pleases God, and so Satan attacks Job’s health.

At this point, the thing that I notice in all of this is that Satan is not God’s equal. He reports to God. He answers to God. Satan is limited in his abilities, because God allows Satan to attack Job, but only so far:

“And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life.’”
(Job 2:6; NKJV)

God is not pleading with Satan, “Please spare Job.” God is giving a command, a protection around Job’s life that Satan cannot breach.

What do I take away from this?

1. God is greater than Satan.

God reveals Satan’s nature and his strategies in the Bible. Imagine if you had a plan to take over the world and God put you and your plan all over YouTube no matter how much you try to conceal it. So do I imagine that Satan wanted to be or is okay with being in the Bible with his ways revealed to us? No.

As I mentioned before, Satan reports to God, not the other way around. This isn’t water cooler talk between colleagues.

2. God is sovereign over my life.

This is not to say that if I die by some horrific circumstance or illness, that God caused my death. It is to say that I can step out in trust that if it’s not my time, there’s nothing Satan can do about it.

I sense that there is more in even just the first chapters of Job so that’s what I got during this reading of Job.

I know my writing is rather flat today and I apologize. I am not feeling 100%, though even at 100%, I can still write flatly.

I hope that there is some encouragement for you as it does for me, that God is sovereign. One can imagine what life would be like if Satan were sovereign; I imagine it would be very dire and hopeless.

So I am thankful that God is sovereign and that we do have a reason for hope in this life!

Thank you for reading,

Friday, February 1, 2013

Healthy Go: I Have Been Weighed

“You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting.”

Where is that from? A Knight’s Tale. I believe it’s partly borrowed from the Bible (Daniel 5).

Whenever I think about being weighed, that line pops into my head, but it doesn’t really have anything to do with what I’m going to write about. …Or does it…?
MEASUREMENTS  (one month change, overall; NC= no change; in inches)

Weight:           Unknown
Neck:              13 (NC, -0.25)
Chest:              38.25 (NC, -2)
Arm:               11.25 (NC, -1)
Forearm:        9.25 (NC, -0.5)
Waist:             33.0 (NC, -1.5)
Hips:               38 (NC, -2.25)
Thigh:             20 (NC, -1)
Calf:                14 (+.25, NC)

Back in June, I had weighed in at 158 to begin with, at my brother’s place. Then two weeks later, I weighed in at 156 at my friend’s place.

Two Mondays ago, I weighed in at the gym. It read right at 160.


Well, several factors could help explain the disparity.

Different scales.

The first time I weighed in for HG was using my bro’s scale. The second time was on my friend’s scale. The third time, the most recent, was at the gym on one of that doctor office type of scale.

Different scales can have different calibrations and such; sometimes it will be a slight difference and other times, a bigger difference. Who knows how long the one at the gym has been there or if it has been maintained. This is not to discount it because it gave me the heavier weight; it’s just to say that if I want to keep better track of my weight progress, then I ought to weigh myself at the same scale each time to get a more consistent read.

Who knows when my bro or my friend bought theirs? Who knows which is the most accurate? It could be that one or none of them are correct. I’m not a prizefighter, so let’s say I’ll use the weigh-ins as just another tool to track a progress.

Different circumstances.

Years ago, I had a scale at home and I would weigh myself after waking up, still in my bed clothes. I felt that for me, that was the most consistent of circumstances in which I could weigh myself. I hadn’t eaten yet, I would be in practically the same clothes each time, I don’t have to be that awake to step on the scale.

Weight can fluctuate slightly throughout the day. I might get myself a scale.

When I had weighed myself at the gym, I had eaten breakfast and had just worked out, then weighed in. And I was wearing slippers because I don’t like sweaty feet, mine or others.

Or I actually did gain weight.

Who knows? I mean, I’ve been mindful of what I eat, even when at parties or out with friends, and I have been getting more active lately, so I don’t know where more pounds would find me, but it is a possibility. I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve done enough to gain muscle mass, but what else is there?

Keep in mind, I have definitely lost inches.

Even though I might weigh more than I thought, there’s no denying that I have lost inches. I have used the same tape measure each time that I’ve recorded the inches each month. Even if I hadn’t recorded the inches, there’s still no denying because of the clothes that I fit into now that I couldn’t fit into before.

Last week, I was getting ready for a family party. I noticed that my pants had a stain in a noticeable spot. It wasn’t coming out right away. It was cold, so shorts were not an option, and this was the only long pants that I could fit at the moment.

Knowing that I had been losing inches, I decided on a whim to try on another pair of pants that I have not worn in a couple of years. This one goes almost all the way to my waist but it wouldn’t go over my hips anymore.

Well, I got into the pants!  Okay, it is still very tight around my hips, but I got in them and I wore them to the party. I just wore a long sweater to make it look good.

So. I am not what I weigh.

And neither are you.

The view from the 5th floor, D-building, Shidler College

Yes, I sometimes eat with college habits- I had no bread at
home, but I had roast beef and provolone! 

I might have to track my diet again, just to see where any extra calories might be coming from and where I can make another switch to a healthier option, etc. I will see how the exercise goes first and then later get back to the diet tracking.

And maybe adjust my weight loss goal for this new weight. Originally the goal was to get from 155 lbs. to 135 by April. The adjustment will still be for 20 lb. loss over 12 weeks (by the end of April), from 160 lbs. to 140.

Again, as a reminder, I’m not so focused on the weight loss or the numbers. I know that the numbers shouldn’t define me.

And yet, I am an ambitious person, in certain respects. I never used to think I was ambitious but a friend told me so years ago, and I am just lately coming to embrace that part of me. I am a risk-taker. I am daring. I am a fighter. I love a good challenge, especially when it’s in line with the dreams I have for myself. I get uncomfortable in comfort zones. Status quo for myself is never okay with me. I want better and I want more. I expect better and more.

Others might not think that I am all those things, but either they haven’t gotten to know me or it’s just that I don’t really share …what I’m going through or what I’m doing and why. I don’t really talk about my dreams or plans. I just go and do things.

I may get down on myself from time to time, but don’t you ever count me out.

So. I know that I can lose the 20 lbs. and the 12-weeks timeline is the challenge for me.

So let me get to it.

I hope that you’ve had a healthy month!

Thank you for reading,